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No. 184. MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1711.
-Opere in longo fas est obrepere somnum.
HOR. ARS POET. 360.
-Who labours long, may be allowed sleep.
WHEN a man has discovered a new vein of humour, it often carries him much further than he expected from it. My correspondents take the hint I give them, and pursue it into speculations which I never thought of at my first starting it. This has been the fate of my paper on the match of grinning, which has already produced a second paper on parallel subjects, and brought me the following letter by the last post. I shall not premise any thing to it further, than, that it is built on matter of fact, and is as follows:
"You have already obliged the world with a discourse upon grinning, and have since proceeded to whistling, from whence you at length came to yawning; from this, I think, you may make a very natural transition to sleeping. I therefore recommend to you for the subject of a paper the following advertisement, which about two months ago was given into everybody's hands, and may be seen with some additions in the Daily Courant of August the ninth.
'Nicholas Hart, who slept last year in St. Bar
tholomew's hospital, intends to sleep this year at the Cock and Bottle in Little Britain.'
'Having since inquired into the matter of fact, I find that the above-mentioned Nicholas Hart is every year seized with a periodical fit of sleeping, which begins upon the fifth of August, and ends on the 11th of the same month: That
On the first of that month he grew dull;
On the fourth, began to nod;
On the sixth, was heard to snore;
On the seventh, turned himself in his bed;
On the tenth about midnight, awaked;
On the eleventh in the morning, called for a little small beer.
"This account I have extracted out of the journal of this sleeping worthy, as it has been faithfully kept by a gentleman of Lincoln's-inn, who has undertaken to be his historiographer. I have sent it to you, not only as it represents the actions of Nicholas Hart, but as it seems a very natural picture of the life of many an honest English gentleman, whose whole history very often consists of yawning, nodding, stretching, turning, sleeping, drinking, and the like extraordinary particulars. I do not question, Sir, that, if you pleased, you could put out an advertisement not unlike the above-mentioned; of several men of figure; that Mr. John Such-a-one, gentleman, or Thomas Such-a-one, esquire, who slept in the country last summer, intends to sleep in
town this winter. The worst of it is, that the drowsy part of our species is chiefly made up of very honest gentlemen, who live quietly among their neighbours, without ever disturbing the public peace. They are drones without stings. I could heartily wish, that several turbulent, restless, ambitious spirits, would for a while change places with these good men, and enter themselves into Nicholas Hart's fraternity. Could one but lay asleep a few busy heads which I could name, from the first of November next to the first of May ensuing,* I question not but it would very much redound to the quiet of particular persons, as well as to the benefit of the public.
"But to return to Nicholas Hart; I believe, Sir, you will think it a very extraordinary circumstance for a man to gain his livelihood by sleeping, and that rest should procure a man sustenance as well as industry; yet so it is, that Nicholas got last year enough to support himself for a twelvemonth. I am likewise informed that he has this year had a very comfortable nap. The poets value themselves very much for sleeping on Parnassus, but I never heard they got a groat by it. On the contrary, our friend Nicholas gets more by sleeping than he could by working, and may be more properly said, than ever Homer was, to have had golden dreams. Juvenal indeed mentions a drowsy husband who raised an estate by snoring, but then he is represented to have slept what the common people call a dog's sleep; or if his sleep was real, his wife was awake, and about her business. Your pen, which loves to moralize upon all subjects, may raise something, methinks, on this circumstance also, and point out to
*The time at that period in which the parliament usually sat.
us those sets of men, who, instead of growing rich by an honest industry, recommend themselves to the favours of the great, by making themselves agreeable companions in the participations of luxury and pleasure.
"I must further acquaint you, sir, that one of the most eminent pens in Grub-street is now employed in writing the dream of this miraculous sleeper, which I hear will be of a more than ordinary length, as it must contain all the particulars that are supposed to have passed in his imagination during so long a sleep. He is said to have gone already through three days and three nights of it, and to have comprised in them the most remarkable passages of the four first empires of the world. If he can keep free from party-strokes, his work may be of use; but this I much doubt, having been informed by one of his friends and confidants, that he has spoken some things of Nimrod with too great freedom.
"I am ever, Sir," &c.
No. 185. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1711:
-Tantæne animis cœlestibus iræ ?
And dwells such fury in celestial breasts?
THERE is nothing in which men more deceive themselves than in what the world calls zeal.
VIRG. EN. i. 15.
so many passions which hide themselves under it, and so many mischiefs arising from it, that some have gone so far as to say it would have been for the benefit of mankind if it had never been reckoned in the catalogue of virtues. It is certain, where it is once laudable and prudential, it is a hundred times criminal and erroneous; nor can it be otherwise, if we consider that it operates with equal violence in all religions, however opposite they may be to one another, and in all the subdivisions of each religion in particular.
We are told by some of the Jewish rabbins, that the first murder was occasioned by a religious controversy; and if we had the whole history of zeal from the days of Cain to our own times, we should see it filled with so many scenes of slaughter and bloodshed, as would make a wise man very careful how he suffers himself to be actuated by such a principle, when it only regards matters of opinion and speculation.
I would have every zealous man examine his heart thoroughly, and, I believe, he will often find, that what he calls a zeal for his religion, is either pride, interest, or ill-nature. A man, who differs from another in opinion, sets himself above him in his own judgment, and in several particulars pretends to be the wiser person. This is a great provocation to the proud man, and gives a very keen edge to what he calls his zeal. And that this is the case very often, we may observe from the behaviour of some of the most zealous for orthodoxy, who have often great friendships and intimacies with vicious immoral men, provided they do but agree with them in the same scheme of belief. The reason is, because the vicious believer gives the precedency to the virtuous man, and allows the good Christian to be the wor